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I would like to use VNC or similar to connect to my Ubuntu 11.10 EC2 instance similar to the way one logs into a windows server using remote desktop and while I've installed Xorg, I've not been able to get anything working to hook into my server.

How do I go about accessing the server that way?

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Client-side, I use Xming and the X2Go client. These are very easy to set up.

Server side, I installed NX / FreeNX. One could go with a VNC server or many other options, but I found that FreeNX seemed to work better for my needs and the server-side desktop UI just seemed snappier for me.

I've used most systems out there, and don't have a long-standing preference. Still, a word of advice: it's best to learn how to set these up via a script, and save your script in case you want to re-generate your AMI. The various configuration contortions you may go through are not worth re-learning should you decide to produce a new AMI from scratch.

It's good to learn your options for client and server side software and tinker with each one at a time. I started several cheap spot instances while finding which setup worked best for me.

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As a note, I'm also running an ubuntu VM on my local machine, would it be easier or harder or the same to connect to the EC2 instance? I have no problems going through the VM if it makes my headaches go away, haha. –  Kort Pleco Jan 18 '12 at 6:19
    
I'm trying X2Go and I get an authentication failure when I try to connect saying that I don't have the right key. What format does the .pem I got from amazon need to be in? –  Kort Pleco Jan 18 '12 at 6:23
    
I half got it working, any fun hints you have would be appreciated. –  Kort Pleco Jan 18 '12 at 7:00
    
I forgot to mention that ElasticFox is an excellent Firefox plugin, which saves me a little time on attaching volumes, getting an instance's IP address, shutting things down, etc. It is better than the console for everything except starting spot instances. –  Iterator Jan 18 '12 at 12:35
    
Or did you mean hints on getting the PEM thing working? –  Iterator Jan 18 '12 at 12:36
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You need to install a VNC server on top of X. There are numerous servers packaged for ubuntu, try apt-cache search vnc.

I find x11vnc (apt-get install x11vnc as root) pretty much self explanatory. Works fine with the tightvnc windows client.

On ec2 you'll need to make sure the requisite ports are unblocked in the firewall, but x11vnc will tell you which ones it needs.

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